Toxic a pretty bold word. It has tremendous implications and is bandied about frequently, so let’s make sure we are on the same page as to what it really means.


If we go to the dictionary for a definition, the following words appear; poisonous, virulent, noxious, deadly, dangerous, harmful. That’s what a toxic office environment feels like. 


But how does it manifest itself? What are the signs? They look like this… People are constantly concerned about what the boss is going to say or whom they are going to pick on; everyone’s number one goal is to avoid being yelled at; if there are company goals they are constantly changed; the shiny object syndrome prevails; no-one wants to hear new ideas, they won’t get considered anyway; communication neither exists or becomes a 3 page e-mail rant; “work harder’ is the mantra; there are secrets everywhere; management are punitive more than motivating; people’s emails and calendars are scrutinized without employees knowledge; there is no leadership, no strategy, merely a “seats of the pants” managing style and processes are started and stopped at the whims of the leadership, with no reason why. 


Sound familiar? You have two choices. First, leave as soon as possible. You don’t deserve it and they don’t deserve you. The only way it will change is if you consciously decide that you won’t become a victim to such callous and unproductive treatment and leave. Such a company with this toxic environment is imploding and therefore your role is probably in jeopardy anyway.


The second choice is to confront it and try and change it. However, believe me, there is no way to change this unless it’s done from the top. Because the toxicity either comes from the top or is condoned by the top. If you are hoping it will get better, it won’t. Hoping it will change is not a strategy!


We owe it to ourselves to be happy at work and be fond of where we are and what we do. We are also more productive and more efficient in our work and personal lives when we enjoy it. There should be no place in our lives for a toxic environment.



Peter M. Beaumont is the Founder and Principal of ConnXN. He is also the author of The Relationship Roadmap, a comprehensive guide to building relationships with strategic clients. Find out more at www.ConnXN.net

About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.